The Monaco Grand Prix often conjures up feelings of longing for F1's golden days and this year is no exception. Over at Williams, Sir Frank hopes to see his beloved team back on top, Kimi Raikkonen is in the Hunt for more thrills while his Lotus team are celebrating their 500th race. Justin Hynes reports from the paddock...
The ego has landed
Frank Williams is not a man to mince his words and a couple of weeks after insisting that he would not have hired Pastor Maldonado had he just been a “w****r” with sponsorship money, he yesterday confessed that he had been delighted with his win in Barcelona for a number of reasons but for one more than others.
“Whatever we did right, and I don’t really know what that was, worked very fine and I’m just delighted to walk away with all those points and another number one on the scoreboard. Eight years [the gap between wins] is an embarrassing amount of time for a man with a big ego.”
Refreshing to hear such honesty in Formula One and it actually might be the first time in F1 history that anyone in the sport has admitted to having an inflated sense of self-importance!
Kimi Kan’t Kompete
You’ve got to love Kimi Raikkonen’s single-minded pursuit of his own amusement: racing and F1. Not one to let sensitivities get in the way of his pursuit of happiness, the fun-loving Finn today said he would love to use the long August break in F1 to have a crack at this year’s Rally of Finland, thus resuming the rally career he abandoned after the Rally of Germany last year.
Fair enough, but what Kimi seems to forget is that the team he races for is the same one that saw Robert Kubica ruled out of F1 after a dreadful accident while competing in an off-season rally in February 2011.
So Lotus boss Eric Boullier is reported to have slapped down Raikkonen’s request. “Contractually he cannot do it. End of story," Boullier told Reuters. "Obviously there is a trauma here after 2011. It [the driver’s contract] is supposed to have a clause where they cannot take any risk because they are so valuable for the team. Rally, skiing, jumping is not allowed."
Of course, this is nothing new for Kimi. During his time with McLaren and Ferrari, the Finn was not averse to ignoring such requests and competing in dangerous sports – he famously took part in a motorboat race in Finland disguised as gorilla and under the nom de guerre of James Hunt. He even won the prize for best costume. How will Kimi take to this latest ‘no fun’ ruling? Do we see a pantomime horse costume on the horizon? He’s already racing this weekend in a helmet emblazoned with Hunt’s name.
Five hundred degrees of confusion
Lotus F1 Team held a nice little soirée on Thursday evening to celebrate the fact that this weekend is the team’s 500th race. However, exactly whose 500th race only became clear when you looked at the very pretty set of commemorative posters handed out to guests at the bash.
Were we celebrating Jim Clark’s 1963 title or Mario Andretti’s championship of 1978? Nothing of the sort, for there was a poster showing Fernando Alonso winning the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix in a Renault, and even further back a picture of Ayrton Senna driving a Toleman TG184 in the 1984 Monaco race.
The penny then dropped – we were talking about races for the team based at Enstone that debuted as Toleman in 1981, became Benetton for the 1986 season, Renault in 2002 and finally Lotus this year. Curiously, the picture of Senna racing the Toleman in 1984 was a scant nine race before he migrated to a team called…. err… Lotus. Confused? Us too.